“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.” — Anais Nin
It’s amazing how birthdays change as you get older. Mine almost passed me by this year before I remembered it. I didn’t ask for a big to-do. I didn’t want a party, and I didn’t need anyone to give me anything. It was just another day in my mind. An awareness that I was once again one year older, and that time tends to pass all too quickly.
Yesterday, I chose to spend the afternoon with the man I love and his family, and then the evening with some of my own family, enjoying the time I had with them. I admit I felt pretty sentimental over it all. For some reason, it felt like somehow the laughs and the smiles sank in a little deeper than usual. I accepted that their love meant more than any gift, and it sparked a thankfulness that carried into today.
Throughout the years, I’ve written a lot about struggle. About scars, and the heaviness that we, as people, can face when we dare to feel in the midst of tragic events, and trying times. When our hearts are heavy, it’s hard to feel the good things. It’s hard to be present in the moments you want so badly to be a part of, and hard to see beyond the pain and beyond today, much less anticipate what tomorrow could bring.
But thankfully these days hold very little of that. The deep, dark valleys grow smaller and smaller as I leave those chapters of my life farther behind. They won’t be forgotten, but I’ve learned from the valleys, and I embrace the wisdom its reaped, and the person those experiences have made me into today.
My 23rd year here on Earth was full of hilltops and triumphs; of growth, courage, trials and freedom. Not just for me, but the people who are a part of my story. I’m incredibly proud of one particular woman in my life that proved it’s never too late to start anew, and to live again. She’s a beacon of bravery, a work in progress that grows more beautiful each time she lets another part of herself show through. And though, like anyone, she has good days and bad days, her courage and determination to hold fast to sobriety and living doesn’t go unnoticed. In fact, her achievements this year have left a tremendously positive mark on my life as well.
I know she’ll read this entry, and so this next paragraph is for her: You’re a lover of stories, and always have been. Yet I want you to know that out of all of the stories you’ll ever read, none will come close to your own. You’re a beautiful, ongoing tale full of hardship and heartache, adventure and struggle, stumbles and redemption. You will have a happy ending, and though those last pages better not come for quite some time (;-)), I want you to be aware that everything about you, from the closest tucked secret to your brightest triumph, is beautiful. You are beautiful, and I love you so very much.
And to everyone else, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I believe the moments matter far more than material things. This life is about knowing others, and feeling known, and I hope that as we grow older the first lines to show are those laughter lines because it means that the joys of life outshined the heartbreak that is so common in the world we live in. We are the ones who decide how our stories will be written. The choices we make, the steps we take and the eyes we choose to see this squirrelly world through do make a difference.
To all of you, I wish the brightest hope and heartfelt joy. But if you’re walking through a valley, take heart from other people’s stories and know that it does get better. Your story matters. And you will see the sun again.
Peace be with you tonight, friends.